The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) announced on Monday the launching of a new technical cooperation programme with the ministry of electricity and renewable energy, as well as the private sector representatives of renewable energy.
The programme aims at supporting renewable energy and promoting gender equality in Egypt, with about a $7m technical cooperation initiative co-funded by the EBRD and the Green Climate Fund (GCF).
“Boosting the contribution of women in the labour force is essential for the economy,” the EBRD’s First Vice President, Jurgen Rigterink, said over his inaugural speech at the event organised by the EBRD on Monday entitled ‘Women in Green Energy: enhancing employment and entrepreneurship opportunities’.
“Women are still not treated fairly in many parts of our society… Supporting their participation in the labour force does not only come because it is the right thing to do, but as it also makes sense for the economy,” he mentioned.
The EBRD engages with the Egyptian authorities, policymakers, business associations for women’s better education and vocational training, as well as supports legislative adjustments that help support women, Rigterink affirmed, noting that his bank collaborates with several Egyptian banks for offering credit lines that can facilitate women’s SME projects to grow and prosper.
“We are keen on facilitating women’s access to funds and advisory services. We need to address the key obstacles that hinder the development of the SME sector, particularly for businesswomen to unleash the potential of women’s opportunities in the renewable energy sector,” he said.
Moreover, Rigterink added that the EBRD is proud that Egypt has recently become the largest country of operation with about €5bn for the past six years, noting, “A third of our investments in Egypt is in the energy sector, with most close to 70% in green energy. We invest in changing lives.”
Rigterink stated that he will visit the EBRD’s Benban Solar Park projects in Aswan, he added, noting that Benban is Africa’s largest solar energy project.
Rigterink is visiting Egypt from 4 to 7 March for meetings with senior government officials and business representatives, and in order to visit the Benban Solar Park in Aswan, according to a past DNE report in January.
“In April 2017, the Green Climate Fund (GCF) committed $150m in concessional finance, together with $4.7m for technical assistance under a GCF-EBRD Egypt Renewable Energy Financing Framework, to complement the $500m commitment by the EBRD to scale-up renewables in Egypt,” Nandita Parshad, the managing director for the Sustainable Infrastructure Group at the EBRD, said.
The purpose of this framework is to support Egypt in unlocking its vast renewable energy potential by addressing key barriers hindering its development, Parshad explained.
“The technical assistance is an important component of the funds in order to strengthen the equality of the opportunities for women and men to access and benefit from this growing sector,” Parshad added.
The last decade has witnessed a significant effort from energy companies in order to improve their equal opportunities in policies and practices, and increase women’s participation in their labour force, Parshad acknowledged.
Moreover, she stated, “We are launching a study today that aims at providing concrete solutions and actions to increase the participation of women in this sector in Egypt.”
“The study will identify economic opportunities and challenges for women, the ways to ensure women can acquire the right skills to access the clean energy labour market, as well as the social and cultural barriers preventing women from seizing such opportunities in Egypt,” she elaborated.
Additionally, Sabah Mashaly, the chairperson of the Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company (EETC), said that the Egyptian women are well contributing to the energy sector, adding, “we are very happy with the EBRD’s new technical cooperation which mainly focuses on helping us overcome the challenges that hinder achieving gender equality in renewable energy.”